Councillors blasted for using city chambers as “private car park”

Tom Buchanan claims he did not know he was not to park his BMW in the court yard

TWO senior councillors are under fire for dumping their cars in a historic courtyard rather than walking 700 yards from their taxpayer-funded official parking spaces.

Steve Cardownie, the deputy leader of Edinburgh council, and the economic leader Tom Buchanan have been accused of using the City Chambers as a “private car park”.

Despite having spaces in Waverley Court, less than half a mile away, the pair regularly park their upmarket German vehicles in spaces reserved for disabled visitors and the Lord Provost’s official car.

Sources within the council accused the SNP councillors of being hypocrites. The city council has become an international laughing stock over its disastrous £1bn plan to get people out of cars and in to trams.

One council source said: “The quadrangle is like an SNP car park. Why do they feel they have the right to constantly park there when they are equally constantly always asking others to use public transport?”

Another senior councillor said: “I don’t know if either has a reason to go in there but both Tom and Steve’s cars are always in the quadrangle and it’s not just for half an hour or so, it’s the whole day.

“I don’t know why they think they can do it. There’s 58 of us and what about the staff? There’s hundreds of people that work here and what would happen if everybody parked there?”

However Cllr Buchanan insisted he did not know he was not allowed to park his BMW in the quadrangle, and was unapologetic.


He said: “I do occasionally park in the quad for a number of reasons. I was in there this morning because I was late coming in from my constituency for the policy and strategy meeting.

“I’ve never asked, I always just get let in. I do not have control over the user mechanism that lets you in I just press the button, say ‘it’s Cllr Buchanan’ and it lets me in.

“I park there when I need to park there; if I’m running late and need to go to another meeting and have not got time to go to Waverley Court. It’s a method of saving time and money but if people are getting anxious about it they should write to me.”

Former council leader Andrew Burns, leader of the Labour group in the City Chambers, said: “Councillors are forever urging Edinburgh residents to minimise car use and to maximise public transport use whenever possible, and I do believe elected members have therefore got a responsibility to lead by example.

“Constantly parking your car without good reason in the City Chambers quadrangle, as several councillors do, is clearly not leading by example but asking voters to ‘do what I say, and not what I do’.”

Access to the court yard is controlled by the facilities manager at the City Chambers but there is no reserved parking and only the Lord Provost is allowed to park without prior permission and a legitimate reason, though it is understood that some other councillors also occasionally park there.

A city council spokeswoman said: “Parking in the quadrangle is permitted by prior arrangement with the facilities manager in the City Chambers.”

Cllr Cardownie, who drives a Mercedes, was not available to comment.